Insomnia in Seattle.

The past few days have been an absolute blur of activity.

During the first day of this visit to Seattle/etc., I saw Pike Place and began to piece together the madness that is downtown Seattle.  Through a maze of homeless people and more Starbucks locations than I can count, I started to acclimate.  This was after almost 36 hours on zero sleep.  Oh, did I forget to mention that we attended a Flogging Molly / Dropkick Murphy show on the first day?  Yeah.  I was barely even conscious during this.  Great show but I was in no way ready to enjoy it.

On day two we ended up visiting a Nordic heritage museum and ate at a place which shared the name of a town my mother used to haunt:  Portage.  You can figure it out with that much information.

On day three it was time to hop the border and see Vancouver for the first time.  I must say that I am absolutely impressed by the city of Vancouver.  It is such a clean, beautiful place, and the Canadian people are an uncannily friendly bunch.  Our agenda was non-existent but we walked along a bay, visited Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium, and topped it off with a visit to Granville Island Market.  We watched the sun drop over the bay and I sat in astonishment at what I was fortunate to witness.

Today is day four and it was an absolute legend of a day.  We decided early on that the first order of business was to visit the Woodland Park Zoo and we were not disappointed.  They had some of the finest and immersive wildlife experiences I have seen to date.  I have always been a sucker for wildlife parks of all kinds and this was no exception.  Top notch stuff.  Zoo knocked off the list, we decided to visit Puget Sound and walked the beaches.  We stuck around for a sunset that rivals anything I have ever witnessed before.  The sun disappeared behind the Olympic range and cast colors that are too many to name.  It was amazing and the day was only just ending.  Up next was the Space Needle.  We arrived approx. an hour and a half prior to closing time and as we approached I could feel a sense of the staggering size of the structure.  Once we hopped on the express elevator and walked out onto the catwalk, it was strikingly apparent how far away the ground was.  The vertigo faded quickly and I was standing in stupid amazement looking at the city from 500+ feet.  If this weren’t enough, the full moon (99%+) rose as the sun dropped, casting a pale blue hue over the entire cityscape.  As I was making a lap around the rotating glass deck, I happened to glance the direction of SEA-TAC and saw 4 planes all in their final approach for landing.  This continued the entire time we were at the Space Needle, almost an hour and a half.

This is single-handedly one of the most enjoyable trips I have ever had the privilege of experiencing.  I am truly fortunate.

More to follow as the week moves on.

Sleepless for Seattle.

About 4 hours from now I will hit the road to go to a 6:00 AM flight from ORD > SEA.  Naturally I can’t even consider sleeping because the squirrels are running a rampage now.

It has been entirely too long since I was kept awake with anticipation.  Travel does that to me though.  This may end up being one of the longest days of my life but it is in the spirit of adventure so I will make due.  As long as I stay awake long enough to get to the terminal and shuffle my way on board, I can at rest easy, even if metaphorically.

Thankfully I have a co-pilot on the drive up and a travel companion in a long time friend who was able to take the whole week off and go with me.  What’s more, he is going to be able to visit family in the area that he hasn’t been able to see for a few years.  It’s always nice to have the opportunity to catch up with family while on an adventure.

I’ve all but given up on the idea that I will sleep tonight.  I will just bide my time.

Bag is packed, thumbs are sufficiently twiddled, time to go!

Vicarious travels.

A friend has spent the last week in Los Angeles and got me stoked to get out on the road again.

It is now less than a month from my next excursion and my first time visiting the Northwest.  One better, a different friend is taking the entire time off and heading out with me.  It will be an entire week to witness what another part of the country has to offer.  I’ve heard plenty of great things about the area but now I’ll be able to see first hand.

Fall will be starting the week we go so the weather should be fantastic.

This won’t be some crazy trip to around the world but it is one of only a few I was able to take this year.  Since I tackled all my debt, next year will involve more travel.  I won’t have any literal or figurative baggage this time, so it will be done the right way.

More to follow soon enough!

On the road. (For the business.)

It isn’t quite what I was looking for in the way of a road trip but I did spend most of my day on the road today.  It was for the business so it is all worth the effort.  After evaluating where I am and where I want to be within 5 years, I decided a few months ago to really take ownership with the business.  It has been a great opportunity to grow and to help provide a living for our crew and us as well.

Fortunately for me, I am surrounded by skilled people, and am related to a couple of them.  Being in business with family is challenging at times, but is, I think, ultimately rewarding.

I often find myself at odds with the thinking of my immediate family and have found the only remedy is to distance myself from it.  This doesn’t affect my ability to do what I need to do as a leader, but it is certainly discouraging.  There is no other word to describe this mentality besides pervasive.  It is always there on the surface, and goes deep.  I don’t feel the same way at all.  I see possibility, I see the growth potential, I see monumental successes.  All I can do is reiterate those sort of things to myself and live the way I need to.

This deviates a good deal from the original focus of my blog, but this is where I am at these days.  Life is a journey, sometimes it is literal, but right now mostly the figurative portions.

A return to writing.

After taking the first half of 2018 to grind away all my debt, I finally have the peace of mind and freedom I need to get back to writing.  It has been a while since I was able to maintain some consistency with my posts because I was infatuated with freeing myself from my self-administered shackles.

One evening last week I noticed it was particularly beautiful out so I decided to go for a drive.  As I pulled out of the driveway it really hit me:  I am driving a car that I have paid for twice and is now officially mine alone.  I started laughing and smiled.  It is absolutely surreal.  Life has always been pretty good, but now it is getting great.

I drove around the town I live in and have for my whole life and saw things in a completely different light, with a sort of confidence that was completely foreign to me because I had never felt it before.  Everything I saw made me light up with possibility.  I looked at the nicer homes and thought to myself that I don’t have to compromise, that I can have the exact home I want.  My little bit of zen in an uncertain world.

It has also occurred to me that now I can be completely unhindered in my quest to visit more of the world.  All I need to do is make a plan for a destination, set the budget for the trip, save aggressively toward the goal, and take the leap.  The best part is, I won’t have to feel like I ruined 6 months of my life because I bankrolled the whole thing with debt.  It will just be a straight forward victory in every regard.

Happiness has been admittedly elusive in my first 35 years, but 36+ feels substantially different.  I am at ease with my place in the world, and I only see things improving from here on out.  This is my life, and I will no longer be a spectator.

I am debt free.

Another year passed today, and it ended on a high note:

As of today I am officially debt free, and I will never go back to that life.

Now I can focus on the future without worrying about the weight of debt on my back.  It is nice to be able to breathe that sigh of relief.

Onward!

 

 

One week to freedom.

Tomorrow marks one week until I am free from my final debt.  It has been a few months of putting off my goals to burn through this but it already feels worth it.  I can see the end and almost reach out and touch it now.

My money will finally be mine alone.  I won’t have to think about who owns me because no one will.  Freedom is a good feeling, even in anticipation.

This was an expensive lesson to learn in the short term but I learned it well.

The countdown to freedom has begun…

Approaching familiar freedom.

The past month has been a complete blur of activity toward my goals and it is at this time I decided to make a public account of sorts.

I am in the process of eliminating the one debt I have, an impulsive personal loan which I used to reduce my targets, and I will have it paid on my birthday in just under two weeks.  The idea sank in today that I will find myself in familiar territory:  completely debt free with no open credit of any sort.  I got goosebumps just reading that to myself out loud now…

Now don’t get me wrong… I know that I will be faced with the same inane conversations I experienced during my previous run as a truly free person:

“You have to have credit!  At least keep one credit card so you can keep your score.”  Turns out that I can keep score…  Negative net worth was the score.
“How will you buy a car?”  I have one already, that I paid for in 11 months.  It has no payments and is less than halfway through it’s reasonable life.  I’m good.  When I retire this vehicle, I’ll buy the next one with cash.  Alternatively, I can trade this ride in and pay the difference on an upgrade.  Or I can just run it til the wheels come off, which is standard issue where I come from.
“How will you buy a house?”  I am not 100% sure that I will buy one.  In fact I am not 100% sure that I will stay in any one place for my life.  Turns out there are different lives people can live…  Shocking I know.  If/when I make the decision to purchase, I will pay with cash and purchase the amount of house I require, not what the bank says I can get a loan for.
“What about (enter pointless material possession here)?”  I am a minimalist and find little use for material possessions.  This was one of the best decisions I have made in my life thus far.  Experiences are the point of this life, and I’ve had far more of those once I tossed old notions.
“Debt is a way of life.”  So is freedom.  The choice is mine.

These are just a sample of the sort of stupid conversations I’ll be squashing before they even begin.  It is in my best interests and I simply will not tolerate the wasted time.  I am sure it will make me seem unapproachable but having known boundaries is just an honest assessment of what I am willing to spend my time on.  I’m old enough to figure some shit out, I think.

In any matter… I will return to report my successful triumph over my last debt and where I plan to go next.

Just a couple weeks left… Grind on.

A toast to the end of time (wasted).

In the time I have spent recently evaluating where I am and where I want to be, I have had to pin down the activities which are time wasters.  Unfortunately this means I must put aside things that will never be more than a hobby.  As it stands, this will leave me with very little distraction aside from the work which pays the few bills I have.

It is always the case, but I am truly responsible for my own success or failure in achieving the life I want.  If I don’t eliminate the non-essential, my life will be ruled by it.  I must take true ownership of my life and get moving on my goals.  There is much to achieve and it is never certain how long we all have.

So I will pour myself a little cocktail this evening and toast to the things that brought me joy but must be eliminated.  The payoff is worth the sacrifice.

Even small journeys.

After a super productive weekend of painting my room and placing a second coat of epoxy flooring on, I decided I would make the most of a beautiful afternoon and drive about an hour and a half to a natural treat, the Indiana Dunes State Park.  This served as a brief getaway from my all-too-familiar surroundings and as an opportunity to see something bewildering while I wait for further destinations.  I walked for several hours taking time to clear my mind and contemplate the vast nature of the world.  As the sun made its descent over Chicago, the world took on a perfect balance of light, minimal but effective cloud cover, and a dazzling display of what one might call “neon pastel” colors in the sky and in the waves.  To do anything less than stand still with a wide open smile would have been an insult to nature in one of her finer moments.

I’ve seen what nature can do when you don’t respect her, but you couldn’t have paid me to wipe the grin from my stupid face.  All this and I was a proverbial stone’s throw from home.  It wasn’t some great vagabonding mission but it stoked a fire I have had for a year and a half.  A reminder of what happiness feels like, and I must listen when it calls.